This Week in WWE: The Baddest and The Man go face-to-face

Raw.png

Chris Novak: We are OFFICIALLY on the road to WrestleMania! Kicking things off is Seth Rollins, the 2019 Men’s Royal Rumble winner. As you might imagine, the crowd is all over Setth at this point in time. Rollins talks about how he won the Rumble and then does the sign point. He says it’s the beginning of the journey and he has a choice to make between Daniel Bryan and Brock Lesnar. He says he’ll have to take time to think about it… and then Triple H arrives to the scene!

Robert O’Neill: Business is about to pick up, as they say. Triple H is happy for Seth and glad he got to point at the sign. He ALSO says that Seth needs to make a decision by the end of the night on if he’s gonna challenge Brock Lesnar or Daniel Bryan. And now Dean Ambrose is here, likely to ruin everything.

Chris Novak: Dean Ambrose challenges Seth and Triple H’s sentiments. He points out that Triple H was ready to kick him to the curb, but, H Man points out that Ambrose did him dirty on the same night Roman Reigns announced he was battling leukemia. Ambrose and Hunter battle a bit on the mic and Ambrose says he wants to face Rollins right now. Ambrose makes a snarky remark about HHH needing his father-in-law’s approval, but Trips gets a ref, and away we go.

Robert O’Neill: Is Dean Ambrose good again? We had that great promo to start the night and now a match that was far better than the one we saw at TLC or any other time in their feud. Maybe Rollins is inspired from the Rumble victory and that helped but this match was awesome. Ambrose sold The Stomp like it was the most pain he’s ever been in and it made for a really cool visual. Fun stuff.  

Chris Novak: We came back and Dean Ambrose was still in the ring. He was about to speak when Nia Jax and Tamina came out, likely to compete in a Women’s Tag Team Elimination Chamber qualifier. Nia hits Dean from behind after there was a staredown. Afterwards, Alexa Bliss and Mickie James made their way out. So, we’re going to have this match.

Robert O’Neill: Am I right to be a little worried about Alexa working with Nia and Tamina in her first match back?

Chris Novak: I think you’re justified. This match was fun but a little rough around the edges. Which, well… you know what, I’m not gonna go too heavily here. I appreciate Alexa doing everything she can into getting something out of Tamina. But, it was what it was. Tamina and Nia are officially headed to EC.

Kurt Angle faced Baron Corbin. Corbin won with Deep Six. The match was what you figured it would be when that match was announced.

Finn Balor’s here now!

Robert O’Neill: He’s sad that he lost to Brock Lesnar but he’s proud of his effort and says he made Lesnar believe, which is true! Now Bob Lashley and LIo Rush are here. Lio calls Finn a “twerp” (ironic) and then Finn makes fun of Lashley for only lasting 12 seconds in the Rumble and gets beat down.

Chris Novak: That was really effective. Finn’s likely going to be bound for the IC Title if this interaction is any indication. Which, hey, that’s fine.

Robert O’Neill: The Revival faced Ryder and Hawkins and didn’t lose. Woo.

And now Elias is here! He’s telling the crowd they’re not worthy of him but JEFF JARRETT comes out and calls him Slapnuts and then ROAD DOGG COMES OUT!

Chris Novak: Ahahahahahaha, this was such a tremendous segment. Road Dogg, repping “The Man” Becky Lynch, goes on a bit of a spiel with Elias. Then they start to sing “With My Baby Tonight” because OF COURSE THEY DID! Elias hit Roadie with a guitar, got into a brawl with Jarrett and prevailed after hitting Jeff with the guitar.

Dana and Nattie vs. The Riott Squad is next.

Robert O’Neill: But first, Mojo Rawley cut… a very good promo backstage in a mirror. Maybe he has something cooking?

Chris Novak: Perhaps, we’ll have to see. Liv Morgan pinned Nattie in a quick match. So, The Riott Squad are in the Elimination Chamber Match. Expected result was expected.

Ronda’s here now for an open challenge. And… she’s getting boooooooooed… she’s getting Becky chants in her direction… she’s getting booooooooooooed some more. And afterwards, here comes BAYLEY! And Bayley’s here to answer the open challenge.

Robert O’Neill: Bayley’s gear is awesome. That’s not a surprise, but I really like the color scheme here.

Chris Novak: Her and Finn are wearing matching colors. Cute. This match RULED. Bayley brought out a ton of neat, new shit in this one, including a jumping kneebar, a B2B into the barricade AND used the Bank Statement. Ronda eventually put her away.

Bayley and Ronda had an interaction… but HERE. COMES. BECKY. LYNCH!!!!!

Robert O’Neill: WELP. To no surprise, Becky is challenging Ronda. We have our first Wrestlemania 35 match.

Chris Novak: What a segment and what a moment. That was legitimately awesome. Ronda did a CONSIDERABLY better job cutting her second promo compared to her first. If that’s the Ronda Rousey we’re gonna see going forward, then it’s gonna be even better. I loved all of that. Inject this entire feud and this hype into my veins.

Robert O’Neill: Braun Strowman and Drew McIntyre are in your main event slot. The crowd… isn’t particularly into it but that’s to be expected after a red hot segment. Strowman got the win by disqualification when Baron Corbin attacked him from behind on the outside and McIntyre and Corbin beat Strowman down. Alright then.

Chris Novak: I don’t want to be too overreaching here, but you can definitely tell where Strowman’s place on the card is.

Seth’s decision is NEXT.

And… well, they pretty much had to go on the fly with this one based on time. Seth picked Brock, if we’re basing this off ANYTHING that happened. Seth ate like five F-5’s and then asked Brock if it was all we got. We went off the air with Seth eating yet another, and THAT… is a wrap on it.

Robert O’Neill: That was very effective! And kind of short, because they don’t have overrun anymore.

Final Thoughts

Robert O’Neill: Look at that, Raw was excellent again. This show absolutely flew by, and everything worked for me. I would have preferred Alexa Bliss getting a victory in her return match, but whatever. The Becky and Ronda stuff was excellent and will be remembered for a long time. A

Chris Novak: Loved Raw again, and I think we’ll talk more about Alexa on the podcast if you want, Rob. Anyways, loved Bayley’s interaction again. Loved the Seth stuff. I ADORED the Becky-Ronda segment. What a show. A for me.

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Robert O’Neill: Becky Lynch is here to open the show! Let’s see what she has to say.

Chris Novak: She talks about her journey from nothing to the main event of WrestleMania (which they are again touting up). She makes it clear that she’s going to break Ronda’s arm in front of the whole world and that if she doesn’t know what’s coming to her, she’ll be carried out knowing it. This all leads to Charlotte making her way to the ring, which I’m sure will go over well with anybody.

Robert O’Neill: People still don’t like Charlotte and I don’t really get it. She’s obviously very good and is a natural rivalry for Becky, with whom she has a ton of chemistry. She congratulates Becky for getting off the kickoff show and says she’s proud, which doesn’t seem sincere! This is very good though. This is what they should be doing!

Becky doesn’t give a shit though and punches her in the middle of the ring and leaves. But Charlotte attacks her up the ramp!

Chris Novak: Awesome brawl to start off the show.

Shinsuke Nakamura defends his newly won US Championship against R-Truth next.

Robert O’Neill: Alright SO! A lot happened here. First, Truth got the upset victory after a backslide that looked like Mike Chioda screwed up (he didn’t), then Rusev came out and said that he wanted a shot at Truth since he lost to Shinsuke the other night, and then Truth beat HIM as well!

But then Shinsuke and Rusev beat Truth down. But, still. New champion!

Rey Mysterio is out here for a match with Samoa Joe… but wait! Andrade attacks him from behind and beats him down.

Chris Novak: I do love that they’re keeping this angle going.

The Club confronted Rusev in the back. Nakamura then stepped in, and now we have a tag match for later!

Time for The Miz and Shane McMahon’s celebration. I have a… bad feeling about this one. Sorry. The Festival of Friendship still gives me nightmares.

Robert O’Neill: Hey it… went well! Shane brought Miz’s dad out and he told Miz he was proud of him, which was nice. And now there’s a fatal four-way tag match to determine the new #1 contenders.

But before that, Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville are talking to Kayla Braxton. They’re declaring for the Elimination Chamber, and Mandy offers insight as to why she’s trying to steal Naomi’s husband, dating back to Tough Enough. I like the continuity.

Chris Novak: Heavy Machinery, The New Day, The Bar and The Usos are in the mix here. Heavy Machinery pinned New Day, which was pretty fantastic and a great way to help get them over. They looked GREAT in this match. Sheamus wound up pinning Tucker to put them away, and then The Usos jumped on in and scored the victory. So, The Usos will face Shane and Miz.

Robert O’Neill: The Usos and Rikishi vs. Miz and Shane and Dad Miz. Let’s roll!

The New Daniel Bryan is out here saying he’s the planet’s champion and introduces his new friend ROWAN (styled R-recycling symbol-W-A-N) who comes out with a satchel. Bryan mentions that Rowan is an intellectual and deserves our respect. Bryan says he’s a hypocrite for carrying around the title and throws it in the trash! Bryan opens Rowan’s satchel and pulls out a title made from wood and hemp. This is amazing.

Chris Novak: Interrupting the matters is... AJ Styles… Randy Orton… Jeff Hardy… Mustafa Ali… and Samoa Joe… an interesting amount of people out here, isn’t it?

Robert O’Neill: WELP! Triple H appeared on the titantron and confirmed that they would all be in the Elimination Chamber for Bryan’s title as the show went off the air.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Chris Novak: I really enjoyed this episode of SmackDown, per usual. The Elimination Chamber announcement/segment was brilliantly done. The opening segment ruled. And there was some solid in-ring action, per usual. Although, I will say that the one thing I will say is that the absence of Asuka was confusing and befuddling. Although I suppose there’s… just no place for her right now? Which is a weird thing to say, but with the Women’s Tag Titles EC match, it makes sense, I guess. But still, it does stink. I’ll give this an A-.

Robert O’Neill: What a weekend of wrestling. I don’t think there was anything I disliked. The R-Truth stuff seemed weird on the surface but as the night went on it made more sense. I don’t love the fact that Mandy and Sonya were able to just declare for the Chamber after Raw featured actual qualifying matches but the Smackdown women’s tag division isn’t as deep. Regardless of that, this show was good. A